In the final days before the Super Bowl, we’ve seen any number of Philadelphia-Boston comparisons regarding who was first at this or that. But really, when it comes to pigskin pride, what could be more elemental than television?
Philly wins that one. In 1934, the Franklin Institute hosted the first live broadcast of football — a demonstration by a few players that was transmitted to an auditorium inside the museum.
We know this thanks to #ScienceSuperBowl, a vigorous back-and-forth on Twitter between the two cities’ science museums. Call it geek smack talk.
— Museum of Science (@museumofscience) January 31, 2018
The Franklin Institute also tweeted that it was getting “pumped up” for the game by learning about air pressure. Was this a veiled reference to DeflateGate, the debate over whether the Patriots let some air out of footballs before a 2015 playoff game so they would be easier for quarterback Tom Brady to grab?
Boston’s Museum of Science shot back: “The only thing we know about pressure is not cracking under it.” Ouch.
The Boston museum also tweeted a photo from its exhibit on time, reminding Philadelphia of the much-maligned time-management skills of former Eagles coach Andy Reid.
Not to be outdone, Philadelphia’s Wagner Free Institute of Science noted that a New Englander had introduced the gypsy moth to the United States. The notorious foliage-munching pest was brought to these shores by amateur entomologist E. Leopold Trouvelot in 1868 or 1869, according to the U.S. Forest Service, and it remains a threat to forests today.
— Wagner Free Institute of Science (@wagnerinstitute) January 31, 2018
Not sure what forest pests have to do with football, but take that, Boston!
Other zingers: The Museum of Science noted that Benjamin Franklin, the namesake of Philadelphia’s museum, got his start in Massachusetts and was, after all, a “patriot.” Along with those choice words, the Boston museum included a photo of the Patriots’ Brady and the fossil of a triceratops.
(Wait, so Brady is like a dinosaur? Well, he is 40 years old.)
The Franklin Institute replied by superimposing an Eagles logo on its giant heart.
— The Franklin Institute (@TheFranklin) January 30, 2018
As for that first football broadcast, it was orchestrated by television inventor Philo T. Farnsworth. He spent 20 days during the summer of 1934 filming other action in various spots around the Franklin Institute, including the roof. Visitors lined up around the block to pay 75 cents admission, the museum said.
The football broadcast occurred on August 25, 1934, though televised football would not become a widespread phenomenon for several decades. The Super Bowl is now watched each year by untold millions around the world.
Next week, the science museums can go back to educating busloads of schoolchildren.